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Thursday, November 19, 2020

GL of DC: Junior Grand Deacon Suspended Just Two Hours Before Elections Open

by Christopher Hodapp

In the annus horribilis that is 2020, I suppose none of us should be surprised by erratic or irrational behavior from even the best of men. Between the COVID plague isolation, the anti-social media civil war skirmishes, the fraying of human interaction, and the myriad frustrations that have accompanied nearly everything we all do this year, it's probably unfair to think that Masons could rise above the fray somehow. Hell, just the toilet paper hoarding alone would be enough to drive sane men to madness.

I've gotten two items sent to me in the last week that both seem quite odd. The first one comes out of the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia

RW Adam N. Tager

On November 13, 2020, Grand Master Michael D. Nicholas, Sr. suspended the current Junior Grand Deacon Adam N. Tager from the fraternity, for allegedly writing or publishing a mass communication "with intent to denigrate or harm the Masonic fraternity..."  I haven't seen whatever it is that he is accused of writing, but what's odd was the timing of events. The suspension was issued and circulated via e-mail at approximately 4:04 PM last Friday, just two hours before electronic voting for grand lodge officers officially opened at 6:00. (Click the image above to enlarge.)

The GL of DC's annual communication this year is being held 'virtually' because of the COVID shutdowns. Consequently, online voting has remained open since last Friday, and officially closes on Saturday.

The last-second timing of Tager's suspension resulted in him becoming ineligible for advancement to the position of Senior Grand Deacon. Now it's been reported that several sitting Masters (and voting members of grand lodge) have subsequently filed charges against two other brethren who are challengers for the Deacon positions now that Tager has been shut out.

Curiously, the suspension announcement email was accompanied by a second letter from the Grand Secretary explaining that brethren are free to contact RW Brother Tager, "so long as there is no discussion regarding the secrets of Freemasonry."

(I said I have two stories. The other is coming out of South Dakota, and I'm still trying to piece that one together...)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Masonic Author W. Kirk McNulty Passes

W. Kirk MacNulty portrait by Travis Simpkin

by Christopher Hodapp

My Brethren, the roll of the workmen has been called, and one Master Mason has not answered to his name. Brother Shawn Eyer reported on his Facebook page that esteemed Masonic author William Kirk MacNulty has laid down his working tools at the age of 88.

WB MacNulty was the author of three deeply thoughtful and philosophical books about Masonic symbolism: The Way of the Craftsman (1988), Freemasonry: A Journey Through Ritual and Symbol (1991), and Freemasonry: Symbols, Secrets, Significance (2006). MacNulty’s writing focuses on the impact of Masonic history, philosophy and symbolism on the psychological and spiritual development of the individual. For many Masons, his books introduced them to a whole new understanding of our esoteric symbolism and philosophy, and he urged all Masons to seek out and find our personal interpretations.

He was three times Master of Lodge of Living Stones, was a member of the Lodge of the Nine Muses No. 1776 in D.C. and of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22 in Virginia. He also was a member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge. In recognition of his contributions to Masonic literature, he was named as Friar No. 94 in the Society of Blue Friars in 2005.

From the Craftsmen Online Facebook page:
W. Kirk MacNulty was born in California in 1932. He studied at Stanford University and the University of Tennessee, and had a career in the United States Marine Corps and in corporate information technology.

His interest and involvement in Freemasonry spans more than fifty-five years. He received the degrees of Masonry in 1961 at Carson Valley Lodge No. 33 of Gardnerville, Nevada. He later affiliated with lodges in Hawaii, Tennessee, England, and Virginia. He was Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Living Stones No. 4957 in Leeds, England, in 1979, 1980, and 1991. He is the Charter Master (1997) of the Lodge of the Nine Muses No. 1776, a Traditional Observance Lodge in the District of Columbia.

His literary efforts have earned outstanding recognition. In 2008, he was received as a member of London's prestigious Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the world's premier lodge of research. In 2016, he was recognized as a Fellow of the Philalethes Society for his many contributions to the literature of Freemasonry.

He was born in Long Beach, California. His father was an Officer in the Marine Corps, and Kirk traveled to many places during his childhood. When his father retired, his parents settled in San Mateo, California; and he attended San Mateo High School, and graduated from Stanford University. Kirk became an Officer in the Marine Corps where he served for several years. Upon leaving the Marine Corps he became a Freemason in 1961 while living in Gardnerville, Nevada. It was a small country town, with a Masonic Lodge and a dedicated group of members. As he went through the ritual of the Third Degree, he had some profound insights about his own life, the meaning of life, and the meaning of Freemasonry. That started him on a quest to learn more, to know more, and to communicate to others a real and deeper meaning of Masonry than many of its members are aware. Then, while living in London for 18 years, he had the opportunity to get to know Lord Northampton, John Hamill, and other luminaries of the United Grand Lodge of England, and they encouraged him in my Masonic writing.

In addition, he has run, and participated in, Masonic Study groups both in the US and the UK, using the kinds of concepts described in his latest book: Contemplating Craft Freemasonry, in the process gaining enormous insight into his own life, as well as a deeper understanding of the nature of the Craft.
Several years ago, Kirk presented one of his talks as part of the M.A.T.S.O.L. (Masonry at the Speed of Light) online lecture series, which was the brainchild of Indiana Mason Al McClelland long before we all became self-trained experts in Zoom presentations:

"The Philosophical Background of Masonic Symbolism" - W. Kirk McNulty

As of Tuesday evening, I have not seen any notices about funeral services.

He has laid down the working tools of the Craft and with them he has left that mortal part for which he no longer has use. His column is broken, and his Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Special Promotion for 'Freemasons For Dummies' - Now Through December

by Christopher Hodapp

Over the last couple of months, I have been working with the good folks at Wiley Publishing to find a way to offer a substantial discount to lodges and grand lodges who wish to order copies of Freemasons For Dummies for their new petitioners and candidates, without being required to buy large quantities. 

For a limited time you, your lodge or your grand lodge can order multiple copies of the paperback edition of Freemasons For Dummies directly from the publisher at 30% off the $19.99 list price. This special offer will extend from now through December 31st, 2020.

Because of the COVID virus shutdowns, Masonic lodges throughout the United States have been largely forbidden from meeting in person and conferring degrees on new candidates. 
In many states, Masons have been prevented from conferring degrees at least until the end of the year. At the other end of the situation, thousands of interested men who have been trapped at home by the shutdowns have been contacting grand lodges directly or logging on to the www.BeAFreemason.com website expressing new interest in joining the Masonic fraternity. The result has been a growing group of potential new Masons stalled and unable to move forward until states fully reopen and lodges can once again meet together in person. 

Freemasons For Dummies is the perfect introductory book for potential new Masons. 

So here are the gory details for this deal:
To get the 30% discount, you MUST order through the Wiley.com website at: https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Freemasons+For+Dummies%2C+2nd+Edition-p-9781118412084
OR call their order line directly Monday thru Friday at ‭(800) 225-5945‬
Use the following private Promo Code: MAS20
There is NO minimum number of books you must order for the 30% discount. It works even for single copies (but do watch out for their postage fees).
The Wiley folks were kind enough to extend this discount all the way through the end of this year.
Be aware that this 30% discount applies only to the paperback book, not to the audio, Kindle or other electronic editions. It also doesn't apply to any foreign language editions. Also, this discount cannot be used at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or anywhere else. Only through Wiley's customer service department.
Several grand secretaries have told me they have been purchasing Kindle gift codes from Amazon in advance and sending one as a gift to men who who complete their degrees. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to secure a discount code for Kindle versions from Wiley because those have to come from Amazon. But I'm still trying to find an alternative.

If your lodge or grand lodge is looking for even more of a discount (such as for a one-day class or other large group event), they can offer the following bigger price breaks:
  • 50-99 copies = 35% discount
  • 100+ copies = 40% discount
Let me know if you have that kind of interest, and I'll put you in touch with the marketing office.


Wiley Can Make Customized Editions

Don't forget that Wiley has a special branding department that can work with your Grand Lodge to create a customized version of Freemasons For Dummies specific to your jurisdiction. It makes the perfect welcome gift for new members. In fact, in 2011 the Grand Lodge of New Mexico and their Lodge of Research created their own customized edition of the book that was given to all of their Entered Apprentices.

What this means is that your Grand Lodge, education committee, or research lodge can have its own special edition of the book for your members, provided you are able to order in sufficient quantities. Your official seal or other artwork specific to your Grand Lodge could be featured on the outside, and a message from the Grand Master, Grand Lodge Education Committee, Lodge of Research, or other official group could be printed on the inside covers. The book is also a popular one for non-Masons, and your members could be encouraged to pass it to friends or family who might have an interest in the fraternity—the cover could include the Grand Lodge contact information, internet address, phone numbers, etc. Of course, it's also popular as a gift given by many lodges to new Masons. The inside cover might include a custom plate in which to inscribe the members’ name and lodge, and degree dates.

Both Wiley and I are willing to work with you on design, artwork and content. There is one caveat: No changes can be made to the text of the book itself, so if there is something in the book's current text that is NOT correct or applicable for your jurisdiction, that part can’t be changed. Only the inside and outside covers can be altered.

The retail price of Freemasons For Dummies is $19.99, but you can save between 45%-50% off the cover price, depending on the quantity being printed. The minimum order for a custom version is 1,000 books ($11 per copy or 45% off), with an additional price break at 2,000 copies ($10 per copy, 50% off). So obviously it behooves you to keep any messages or information generic enough so that it doesn't become dated before you use them all.

If you have any interest in this program, please do not hesitate to contact me directly, or Molly Daugherty, director of Custom Solutions and Brand Licensing for Wiley Publishing in Indianapolis at 317-572-3465, or at Mdaugher@wiley.com

Thursday, November 05, 2020

COVID: UGLE Suspends Masonic Meetings in England Again

by Christopher Hodapp

The Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England has once again ordered the suspension of all Masonic meetings throughout England in the wake of new increases in COVID cases. 

The order, which is effective today, was prompted by new government restrictions issued on Saturday. England has essentially ordered another nationwide lockdown and is forbidding nearly every kind of non-family gathering.

Royal Arch leadership in England has made a similar pronouncement concerning Chapter meetings.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

"My King is dead" - Sean Connery, R.I.P.

by Christopher Hodapp

“Brother to a Prince and fellow to a beggar if he be found worthy.”

"I have been fellow to a beggar again and again under circumstances which prevented either of us finding out whether the other was worthy. I have still to be brother to a Prince, though I once came near to kinship with what might have been a veritable King and was promised the reversion of a Kingdom — army, law-courts, revenue and policy all complete. But, to-day, I greatly fear that my King is dead, and if I want a crown I must go and hunt it for myself..."
—The Man Who Would be King

I saw this morning that Sir Sean Connery has passed away. Few actors can sustain the sort of consistent persona Connery had for as long as he did. 

I grew up watching Sean Connery movies, and he was present in my pop culture life as early as I can remember. Alfred Hitchcock once said he cast Connery in Marni because he had an animalistic quality and a face that made you unsure of what he might do at any second. To be brutally honest, he really didn't have much in the way of range. He wasn't a chameleon, he didn't disappear into his roles. That distinctive voice and accent did a lot to prevent that. But whether he was playing a cool American executive, a Russian submarine commander, a lunatic poet, a tweedy history professor with an adventuresome son, a firefighter, a thrill seeking TV reporter, the king of Mycenae, the true born King of All England, or James Bond, he was really always Sean Connery and always just damned interesting to watch and listen to. Because as Hitchcock said, you were always unsure of what he might do at any second.

In the 1980s, Connery was in two movies that both ruined their endings solely because Sean Connery's persona transcended the scripts and stories. In Time Bandits, young Kevin should have climbed on the firetruck. Why? Because everyone in the audience would have gladly followed Sean Connery to the ends of the Earth. Or at least to Troy, because he was really Agamemnon.

In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusader, Connery as Henry Jones should have taken the place of the old Templar Knight and stayed behind to become the next immortal guard of the Holy Grail. Why? Because only Sean Connery should be entrusted to protect the eternal relics of God on Earth for the rest of us all.

Despite what some Masons have thought or believed over the years, Connery wasn't a Freemason. I've seen lots of Facebook messages today assuming that he was. But, alas, no. But he did play a brother Mason once long ago. He once portrayed 
Right Worshipful Brother Daniel Dravot in what has always been, for me, the very best Sean Connery movie everThe announcement of his passing compelled me to go back this morning and re-read the short story that inspired the movie. Long before I became a Mason, I saw The Man Who Would be King in the theater. I was happy to later find that the film follows the Kipling story quite closely. 

And what a story it is. 

Connery's Daniel and Michael Caine's Peachy are both lower class Englishmen, packed off to fight in India for the Empire. But they have dreams far beyond the notion of dying to keep India English and returning home to a dreary life. At home they know they will return to no prospects. But in the East, there were limitless possibilities. 

"We have decided that India isn’t big enough for such as us... Therefore, such as it is, we will let it alone, and go away to some other place where a man isn’t crowded and can come to his own. We are not little men, and there is nothing that we are afraid of except Drink, and we have signed a Contrack on that. Therefore, we are going away to be Kings.”

"They have two and thirty heathen idols there, and we’ll be the thirty-third."

And so the two intrepid Brother Masons set off to become kings in Kafiristan. 

"Peachey came home in about a year, begging along the roads quite safe; for Daniel Dravot he walked before and said:— ‘Come along, Peachey. It’s a big thing we’re doing.’ The mountains they danced at night, and the mountains they tried to fall on Peachey’s head, but Dan he held up his hand, and Peachey came along bent double. He never let go of Dan’s hand, and he never let go of Dan’s head. They gave it to him as a present in the temple, to remind him not to come again, and though the crown was pure gold, and Peachey was starving, never would Peachey sell the same. You knew Dravot, sir! You knew Right Worshipful Brother Dravot! Look at him now!”

As I finished the story, I realized that Kipling's opening line captured the way I feel this afternoon after hearing of Connery's passing. 

"Today, I greatly fear that my King is dead, and if I want a crown I must go and hunt it for myself..." 

I like to think when I finally enter the Land of Shades myself, I'll hear Sean Connery, beckoning, ‘Come along, Peachey. It’s a big thing we’re doing.’ 


(Sean Connery's autographed photo as King Daniel of Kafiristan appropriately hangs in my bar, and yes, he signed it upside down. "I had great fun making that picture," he said, "but it was a wild time. So it deserves to be autographed upside down.")

Friday, October 30, 2020

Shriners Statue in Connecticut Vandalized

by Christopher Hodapp

The Sphinx Shrine temple in Connecticut is the latest victim of statue vandalism this week.

Twice before in recent months, area malcontents attempted to unbolt and topple the iconic 'Editorial Without Words' sculpture in front of the Shriners' temple in Newington, but their prior efforts apparently failed to generate satisfactory attention. So, sometime before last Saturday, they returned and beheaded the statue. This time, the New Britain Herald picked up the story and interviewed Potentate Richard White, Past Potentate John Taylor, and Past First Lady Lisbeth Mindera Herbert about the incident.

According to the headline, the damage is 'irreparable.'

The statue is a common decoration seen in front of Shrine temples throughout North America. It is a widely recognized representation of Shriners International's ongoing mission of providing orthopedic and burn care to children in their 22 hospitals. 

The sculpture is modeled after a famous 1970 photograph of Shriner Al Hortman taken in Evansville, Indiana at a Shrine picnic. Local photographer Randy Dieter had been on assignment covering Hadi Temple’s annual outing for handicapped children. Hortman stopped to pick up a disabled girl named Bobbi Jo Wright and her crutches when Dieter spotted them almost by accident and snapped the photo. The older girl in the photo is Hortman’s daughter, Laura, who was a patient at the Shriners Hospital in St. Louis. It was after Laura began receiving treatments at the Shriners Hospitals for Children that Al Hortman had joined Hadi Shrine.

Since then, the image has been reproduced countless times, as a logo, in advertising, on jewelry, and as a sculpture, which was first created to stand in front of the Shriners International headquarters in Tampa. It's referred to by the unusual title 'Editorial Without Words' because the image immediately and wordlessly portrays the Shriners and their principal charity.

Shriners Hospitals for Children provide specialized pediatric care in orthopaedics, spinal cord injury, cleft palate and other conditions. Over 1.4 million children have received treatment since 1922. Shriners Hospitals provide all care without financial obligation to patients or their families.

While all Shriners are Freemasons, not all Masons choose to become Shriners. In addition to the Shriners meeting at the Sphinx Temple, it is also home to the Scottish Rite Valley of Hartford.

By the way, the Sphinx Shriners have the distinction of being home to the oldest established Shrine band in the country, originally formed in 1899.

I'm told by several Shriners in other states that this attack on the Connecticut Shriners' statue has not been the only one this year. In the statue-toppling frenzy of the past several months, it seems that petty miscreants have damaged several of these around the country. It's not as though the statue of a Shriner in a fez carrying a handicapped child is any sort of symbol of 'oppression' or worthy of some sort of historical revisionist scorn. But perhaps these have been tied to the latest Internet fantasies of Masonic conspiracies and assorted Qanon chatter about Satanic child traffickers. Or perhaps tied to beheadings of Christian and Western statuary (and people) in Europe by Islamic extremists in the last few weeks. Or maybe just basement-dwelling pseudo-insurrectionaries excited by the execrable Popular Mechanics' 'How To Topple A Statue' article over the summer that contributed to rampant damage nationwide.

Or more likely, just bored, ignorant teenagers with too much time on their hands during the national shut downs. I suppose we'll never know. But in the ongoing mania to tear down people, institutions, beliefs and nobility, it sure would be a pleasant switch if some of these cretinous delinquents tried building something admirable in their place.

Silly me.    

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Need seating for lodge or church? Act before this Friday!

by Christopher Hodapp

I saw this circulated on Facebook today. Does your lodge or church need bench seating? A church in Boise, Idaho must get rid of all of their pews by this Friday, October 23rd. 

They are selling these 12-foot-long bench pews (with attached kneelers) for a paltry $25 apiece. It looks like they have 20 of them (or did before this announcement). 

Act fast. And bring a big truck.

Amity to Publish 'List of Lodges Masonic'

by Christopher Hodapp

As reported here last week, Pantagraph Publishing and Stationery has announced that they will not publish a new edition of the List of Lodges, Masonic for 2021After many decades of printing the List, Pantagraph is finally calling it quits. 

But there is good news to be reported. For several years now, Pantagraph has been working with the brethren who created the Amity smartphone app, knowing this day would come, sooner or later. While the timing of Pantagraph's decision this month came as a surprise, Amity has just announced that they will soon be offering a print-on-demand, up to date book version of the List of Lodges, Masonic. They are expected to start calling for orders in December.

Many rank and file Masons may not know about this indispensable book created annually to identify regular, recognized lodges and grand lodges, but it is used by grand lodge offices and lodge secretaries everywhere as a quick reference. More than 180 grand lodge jurisdictions all over the world are listed, along with the names, numbers and locations of more than 30,000 lodges around the world. It's especially handy to verify lodge names and affiliations when out of state visitors show up for a meeting. It also has included reference charts to check various aspects of membership requirements, certain rules, customs and requirements that can vary from place to place. If you've never seen one, ask your lodge Secretary - he doubtless has a copy.

Amity had already created a new website for Pantagraph to sell the book at www.listoflodgesmasonic.com, as well as an Internet portal to make it simpler for grand lodge secretaries to upload their annual information and any changes. (There are a limited number of 2020 editions of the List still available from that site.)

With this new change and the cooperation of Pantagraph, all of this is a net plus to the fraternity. The old List had info from 180 jurisdictions. The new edition will now contain almost twice as many grand lodges from all over the world and 40,000 lodges, with the up to date information about regularity, recognition and amity included for each one. That makes it of enormous value, not just to traveling Masons and lodge Tylers, but to Masonic researchers everywhere. And of course, all of that information is also included in the Amity smartphone app. 
Amity is available for smartphones at no charge from both the Apple and Android app stores, and there are no subscription fees of any kind.
And one great aspect of the on demand version is that it can be updated instantly as new, revised information comes in from the grand lodges. Each book can reflect the newest info when the print button gets pushed.

As with the old editions, anyone can purchase the List - you don't have to be a secretary to order it. In my more energetic traveling days, my apron case copy would be pretty battered and torn by the shank of the year. I have a second one on my desk at all times, and consult it at least twice a week.

The projected single copy price of the book is expected to be $27. Because of the nature of any print-on-demand book, that single copy price is higher than a mass-produced book of the same size.That $27 single price can be reduced if a larger number of copies is ordered at one time. And remember, this new version has almost twice as many listings now.

One final note to grand lodge secretaries: Because Pantagraph has given its blessing to Amity with this plan, the Amity folks need your help to make the new version of the List as accurate as possible.  Please make use of their online administrative portal to provide Amity with your latest information, just as you would have with Pantagraph each year. As with the old list, it can only be as correct as the information you provide for your jurisdiction.

Michael and Jeremy at Amity sent out an announcement last week with some added details. So I reprint it below.
Dear Brother,

By now you've surely heard the news: Pantagraph Publishing and Stationery will not publish a new edition of the List of Lodges, Masonic for 2021.

I'm happy to share some great news with you, though: Amity will print up-to-date books for any Grand Lodge -- and any Freemason -- that is interested.

Why Amity?
You already know Amity as the world's only digital complement to the List of Lodges. You may not know, however, that we've worked closely with Pantagraph for several years. For example, we operate ListOfLodgesMasonic.com on their behalf, where individual books can be purchased online.

We've also developed Push to Pantagraph, the only way to send updates to Pantagraph electronically. We've disabled this feature based on the recent news, but we'll use the same technology to let you send in your updates for the 2021 book.

A Strong Step Forward
For those who enjoy having a book on their desk to reference -- and for all of the Grand Secretaries who make the book happen -- our 2021 edition has a few features that we know you'll like:
65% More Grand Lodges
Amity's book will cover 306 Regular Grand Lodges around the world... 122 more than found in the List of Lodges.
• Last Minute Updates
Our advanced technology allows you to submit updates as late as January! Our 2021 edition will be the most current book ever printed.
• No More Paper!
For many Grand Lodges, information is updated automatically. For others, keeping Amity up-to-date is as simple as the click of a mouse. Get started today at our administrative portal.
Change is never easy. We're working hard to make this seamless, though, and we look forward to providing the same high caliber of service that you've come to expect from our friends at Pantagraph.


What's Next?
We'll send another email in December, when it's time to place your order. For now, all you need to do is take a look at our portal, where you can update your recognition status with any other Grand Lodge in the world, and see all of the information that we have in our system.
Change is never easy. We're working hard to make this seamless, though, and we look forward to providing the same high caliber of service that you've come to expect from our friends at Pantagraph.


Friday, October 16, 2020

Masonic Service Association Relocated to Iowa

by Christopher Hodapp

For over a year, the current commissioners of the Masonic Service Association have expressed their intention to move the MSA from their longtime Washington D.C. headquarters in suburban Maryland back to its original home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Yesterday, I reported that the msana.com website had vanished into the aether. Now today, the MSA has issued the following press release officially announcing their new location.

MSA Relocates to Iowa

Now in its 101st year, the Masonic Service Association of North America (MSA) has relocated its headquarters to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
In effect, this is a return to its roots, because MSA was created at a meeting of Grand Masters of the United States in 1919 in Cedar Rapids. Most of MSA’s life has been in the Washington, D.C., and nearby Silver Spring and Burtonsville MD, areas.

For the past year, MSA has been restructuring its organization, to provide a more functional and cost-savings method to serve Freemasonry across the continent. A primary goal was to move out of the costly rent area of the nation’s capital.

MSA’s new address and contact information:
813 1st Avenue SE Ste 357 Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-5001
Tel: 319-365-1438 Fax: 319-365-1439

MSA now will be operating out of the building housing the Iowa Masonic Library and Museums, which is regarded as one of the best facilities in the world to perform Masonic research. The large marble structure houses the library, several museums, special exhibits, and the offices of the Grand Lodge of Iowa. “What an outstanding location for the Masonic Service Association and its variety of service and information-producing responsibilities,” said Lanny Sanders, Chairman of the MSA Board of Commissioners. The Library houses more than 250,000 volumes, of which thousands are rare Masonic books for the serious researcher and a circulating collection for the casual reader. The Library also collects materials dealing with non-Masonic topics. In 1884, the first Masonic library building anywhere in the world was opened to the public in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The building was supposed to last 100 years, but nobody predicted the impact a building would have on the collections which grew so quickly that the building housing them proved too small and crowded. Thus, in 1952, the old library was demolished and, in 1955, the current white marble, four-story building was opened on the same site. Last year, as part of the reorganization, Craig Davis was named Administrator for the Masonic Service Association, its chief operating officer. He also serves as Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Iowa.

 In its new home, MSA will continue its variety of services to Freemasonry in North America, including:

  • Service to military veterans at approximately 150 U.S. veterans hospitals and clinics in the country. MSA is the only Masonic organization represented on the Veteran’s Administration’s Voluntary Services Organization Advisory Board.
  • Preparation and dispersal of Masonic information to assist Lodge education efforts, general Masonic content for the public, and useful data for the benefit of any Mason. These efforts include monthly distribution of the Short Talk Bulletin and Emessay Notes publications, operation of the Masonic Information Center, and periodic development of brochures and digests.
  • Gathering and dispersal of Disaster Relief Funds to Grand Lodges in times of need.

 Millions of dollars over the years have been collected and provided to assist in times of trouble. MSA has become the key organization trusted by Grand Lodges and Masons to filter such relief to needed areas. Every penny donated through MSA for disaster relief is sent to those in need.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

MSA Website Gone; No Pantagraph List for 2021

by Christopher Hodapp

Last October, the Masonic Service Association of North America chose to dismiss its Executive Director of three years, Simon LaPlace, and not replace him. Over the subsequent twelve months, the MSA website languished with almost no updates, no revised membership statistics (nothing since 2017), and no disaster appeal announcements since 2019. 

This morning I attempted to log on to the msana.com website, and lo and behold, someone at MSA appears not to have not paid their domain renewal bill for the first time in twenty years. Because the website hadn't been updated in so long, I have no idea who the current commissioners are at this point. If anyone does, you might ask them who's in charge of the joint.

In other news, Pantagraph Printing has announced that they will not be printing the annual List of Lodges Masonic for 2021, using the COVID pandemic as their reason. That's a bit strange, since the grand lodges around the world actually do the heavy lifting of updating their stats and Pantagraph simply makes edits to the previous edition lists each year. 

In the wake of this announcement, everyone should know about the Amity app, a smartphone app that permits you to search for regular, recognized lodges when traveling. The few grand lodges that stubbornly don't want to cooperate with Amity now have even fewer reasons to hold out, with the Pantagraph announcement.

Regular readers have doubtless noticed the dearth of posts here recently. With the pandemic, there's less Masonic news to report on, but there's another, bigger reason. Alice and I have just signed a contract for a new (non-Masonic) book project with a tight deadline this past week, so we are already up to our nostrils in research and pounding out chapters.  In the middle of our schedule, we'll also be hitting the road in the Airstream to see my family in California around Thanksgiving. 

We're not being anti-social, we're just preoccupied, and paying gigs have to take precedence over the volunteer ones, I'm afraid. If you email me and I don't answer, I'm not ignoring you. Keep bugging me and I'll wake up long enough to respond.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Fraternal Assistance Needed For Masons in Beirut, Lebanon

by Christopher Hodapp

On August 4th, Beirut, Lebanon was devastated when a harbor warehouse was leveled by a pair of massive explosions. In an instant, more than 200 people were killed and 60,000 injured when hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer detonated. Buildings were damaged for miles around when the blast wave hit, and an estimated 300,000 people were left homeless by the destruction. The damage caused by the blast left buildings miles from the port explosion in ruin. The blast comes at a terrible time for the nation of Lebanon, which was already on the brink of financial collapse facing a disastrous economic crisis.

Freemasons from three regular, recognized grand lodge jurisdictions have banded together to organize a financial relief initiative to provide compensation to Masons and other individuals who were directly affected by the disaster. 

The Fraternal Assistance Crisis Team (F.A.C.T. Lebanon) is made up of representatives from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, and the Grande Loge National Française. All three of these grand lodges have Masonic lodges currently chartered and at work in Lebanon.

The F.A.C.T. Lebanon website has been set up in both English and French to accept international fraternal donations. According to the website, "The Fund will follow strict rules with regards to processes and transparency in the resource and information for eligibility criteria, the methodology used to calculate economic and non-economic loss and compensation payment procedures."

In early August, WB Robert L. D. Cooper, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland and curator of their Masonic museum issued the following statement about the F.A.C.T. Lebanon assistance program:
Good Morning Brethren - a quick update from Beirut. Burial of relatives of our brethren who tragically lost their lives are now underway and we are taking account of the damages of our own membership and temples.
We are liaising with each other to ensure provision is made for medicines for our brethren as we have fully covered accommodation for those whose homes are not viable.
In the next 48 hours, we will be launching a contribution page for anyone wishing to assist along with the two other jurisdictions in amity with our Grand Lodge, Grand Lodge of Washington DC, and Grand Lodge National de France. This is becoming critical as the government has not done anything to assist and the situation is getting more difficult for many by the day.
On Lodge level, many of our Lodges have started various initiatives to support their own communities in the areas they meet, from providing hundreds of meals for the medical teams who are practically living in the hospitals to provision of soup kitchens, blood donation and volunteer work for repairs.
Our Cypriot brothers have organized a shipment of food which will be making its way to the port of Tripoli in the Northern region of Lebanon.
May the Great Architect of the Universe continue to protect us all.
FACT LEBANON’s support and donations will be channeled and directed into these main Relief categories:
  • Medical & Health-Related Relief: To support individuals who have suffered injuries or physical disability (hospitalization, medicine, medical equipment, etc).
  • Rebuilding & Relocation Relief: To support in home refurbishing and restoration, relocation, and loss of business/economic damage of offices and business structures.
  • Memorial-Related Relief: To support the families, widows and orphans of victims following the death of the family breadwinner.

For more information and donations, CLICK HERE.

PLEASE NOTE: The FACT Lebanon website does not accept Paypal for donations, but you can donate there via credit card. Be aware that some U.S. banks and credit card systems may decline the foreign payment when you try the first time, unless you commonly make other international payments or transactions. (This is an automated safeguard against nefarious activity that card companies commonly use today — they're afraid somebody is using your stolen credit card number to rent a helicopter in Dubai.) If the system declines the payment, be sure to check your email for a notice form your bank before trying again. They're trying to protect you, but that can often be an annoyance if you don't see the message that your payment got flagged. 

That said, I successfully made a donation using my American card in late August and it worked fine.


The Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia has also set up a U.S. portal for donating to FACT Lebanon via Paypal or by check. Visit their separate website HERE.

Also at that site is a 4-page document with a detailed explanation of the program and details about its distribution.

To donate by U.S. check, please make payable to The DC Masonic Foundation and mail to:

The DC Masonic Foundation
5428 MacArthur Blvd. NW
Washington, DC 20016-2524

In the memo section, please write: "Beirut Relief Fund"

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Masonic Book Club Is Reborn By AASR-SJ

by Christopher Hodapp

Lovers of Masonic books can again rejoice - that which was lost has been reborn! After years of hopeful rumors, the Masonic Book Club (MBC), which has been defunct since 2010, has been resurrected by the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction's Supreme Council!

If you've been reading and collecting Masonic books for very long, or if you hang out in Masonic libraries, you doubtless know about a very special series of blue hardback volumes from the Masonic Book Club. Formed in 1970 by Brothers Alphonse Cerza and Louis Williams, the MBC operated out of the Illinois Lodge of Research for forty years, primarily reprinting long out-of-print works of importance, or occasionally obscure gems. Unlike the spate of badly scanned, print on demand reprints like Kessinger editions and their imitators who quickly followed, the numbered MBC volumes were beautiful facsimile editions, printed on quality paper, bound in leather, generally with a new introduction by noted Masonic scholars that brought fresh understanding to the background of the work itself.

Over the years, they published works as varied as both editions of Anderson’s Constitutions, Samuel Pritchard's Masonry Dissected, The Old Gothic Constitutions, Thomas Smith Webb's Freemasons Monitor, The Folger Manuscript, the Trestleboard of the pivotal 1843 Baltimore Convention, John Robison's Proofs Of A Conspiracy, and many more. Introductions were written by brethren like Wallace McCloud, Harry Carr, Dwight L. Smith, Melvin M. Johnson, and others. (See the whole list HERE.)

The MBC was limited to just 999, and eventually 1,500 members, and it was one of the more peculiar and quirky clubs that you just sort of had to know about. You sent in your twenty dollars every year, but there was no announcement, no periodic news or communication, not even an acknowledgement you had joined. Then, sooner or later, a package would arrive in the mail at some point in the year with a new book enclosed. 

Sadly, the final book went out in 2010 after its last president Robin Carr retired. Like so much else with the MBC, there was no announcement. It just ended. But ever since 2016, Illus. S. Brent Morris at the Scottish Rite SJ has told me of the strong desire he and Art De Hoyos have had to resurrect the MBC from the ashes. This has taken many years of work behind the scenes to accomplish, and the announcement is finally official today. 

The Scottish Rite has had a devotion to high quality publications and books for more than twenty years though the Scottish Rite Research Society, but freighted almost exclusively to the works of the Rite itself, not the wider Masonic world. Their support of the MBC as a standalone club and publication arm is a major commitment to Masonic education and enlightenment to the whole fraternity. If you have seen or owned books published by the SRRS over the recent years, you know they are committed to creating high-quality hardback editions.

The MBC's website answers many questions. The new MBC does not have any of the old membership records of the original club. The Directors of that group voted to dissolve several years ago and donated their remaining assets to the AASR-SJ for charitable purposes. The new MBC, alas, does not have any of the old Club's previous volumes for sale. But you will find them all over used book sources like AbeBooks.com.

There will be no dues for the new Club -payments will only be collected as books are ready to be manufactured, and all transactions will be handled exclusively online. Without a rigid calendar driving publications, new books can come out in nine months or eighteen months as resources permit. Book prices are expected to range in the $25 vicinity for pre-publication orders, or $35 retail if you miss the ordering window. Volumes will no longer be numbered, but the good news is that, if the hardback edition sells out, the MBC will make a paperback print-on-demand edition available of the book.

And to the relief of the MBC's older original members, they say they actually intend to communicate with members twice a year with an electronic newsletter to keep everyone in the loop about upcoming volumes in the works and their production status.

More information can be found at the MBC's website HERE. If you are interested, you need to sign up on the website now.

Below is the press release announcement issued today:
The Masonic Book Club (MBC), formed in 1970 by Brothers Alphonse Cerza and Louis Williams, has been restarted fifty years later by the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ USA, to continue the MBC mission of printing fine Masonic books. After forty years of service to the Craft, the directors in 2010 decided to dissolve the original MBC. In 2017 MW Barry Weer, 33°, the last president of the MBC, transferred the MBC name and assets to the Supreme Council, 33°, SJ USA. The revived Masonic Book Club has the goals of publishing classic Masonic books and of supporting Scottish Rite SJ USA philanthropies. Membership is open to anyone 18 years or older interested in the history of Freemasonry and allows them to purchase MBC editions at a pre-publication discount.
The club originally was limited to 333 members, but the number eventually expanded to nearly 2,000, with 1,083 members when it dissolved in 2010. The new MBC will have a different business model from the old. Most significantly, there will be no dues; being a member entitles you to purchase books at a prepublication discount. An editorial committee (Arturo de Hoyos, S. Brent Morris, and others) will select the books using survey feedback from MBC members. The first publication should be announced in early 2021 with anticipated shipment 3–4 months later.
For more details, check out the Masonic Book Club page at https://scottishrite.org/media-publications/masonic-book-club/. For specific questions, write to mbc@scottishrite.org.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

New UGLE Universities Scheme Outreach Video

by Christopher Hodapp

The United Grand Lodge of England has for many years had a program to promote Freemasonry on college and university campuses around the U.K., including establishing new lodges, as well as linking existing nearby ones, specifically for those institutions. Called The Universities' Scheme, its aim is to help to forge links between well-placed, enthusiastic Lodges and the many students and other local young people who are seeking to become involved in Freemasonry, but who may not know where to begin. There are now about 50 such university-related lodges throughout the UGLE jurisdiction.

A new video has been produced by the Grand Lodge specifically geared to appeal to 'Freshers' - university freshman - about looking into joining the Masonic fraternity. In just 90 seconds, it lays out the basic principles of Masonry, its contributions to communities, and its national and international scope. (See it above.)

One surprise for U.S. Masons is that the video also includes two young lady Masons from the two large, principal feminine grand lodges at work in England today. "So, you think only men can be Freemasons," asks one. There's  no getting round the fact that the question of women will almost immediately arise when Freemasonry gets discussed, most especially on a college campus these days.

Obviously the cultural attitude on college campi these days is more pockmarked with potential social outrage landmines than ever before. All-male fraternal groups are under assault all over the U.S. and Britain as being neanderthal bastions of male superiority or the patriarchy or. . . something. Setting up a booth at a college promoting a male-only group like the Masons is like waving a red cape at an enraged, four-footed pot roast in a bullfighting arena. So England's Masons use a different approach.

Pearl-clutching U.S. Masons take note: England's (and Europe's) rules involving voluntary associations and anti-discrimination laws and requirements differ from the U.S., and the UGLE has openly stated that female Masons are perfectly respectable. They cooperate whenever possible. The UGLE doesn't exactly recognize the female grand lodges, and their members can't sit in open lodge together, but they decided more than 20 years ago to stop acting like they didn't exist and cooperate instead. Bear in mind that England does not have the Order of the Eastern Star, either. So, the UGLE's statement on the matter of lady Masons is quite pragmatic, stating that the two female grand lodges are in all ways regular, apart from the fact that traditional Masons do not permit women to join our lodges. And when a lady approaches them to ask about membership, English Masons are free to say 'here's who to contact, here's their websites, and can I call you a taxi?' 

England's two female grand lodges are Freemasonry For Women (Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons) and the The Order of Women Freemasons. Both are also actively chartering new female lodges around college and university campuses in England, and all three grand lodges are cooperating with each other on this Universities Scheme to introduce Freemasonry to college students by establishing lodges connected to college and university campuses.

UGLE invited the female grand masters of both the HFAF and OWF to their 300th anniversary gala in London in 2017. Interestingly, UGLE and the HFAF conferred with each other when they crafted their recent transgender policies in 2017, which were forced upon them by changes in English laws.

It's a refreshing approach that I wish Americans would adopt, because this question will continue to dog us in varying degrees for the foreseeable future. Contrast England's statement with the way the Grand Lodge of California addresses it on their website:
"Q: Can women join Masonry?""A: There are three strands of Freemasonry in the world: masculine Masonry (exclusively men), feminine Masonry (exclusively women), and mixed Masonry (men and women). The Masons of California is a fraternity of men. We sponsor Masonic organizations for men, women, and youth."
Of course, the biggest issue in the U.S. is that female Freemasonry is just not that popular here, in comparison to so-called 'malecraft' Freemasonry. It is almost useless to tell a young lady about female lodges if the closest one is a 500 mile drive away.